Situation in Punjab-Haryana turned volatile after a special CBI court in Panchkula announced the verdict against self-styled godman, amidst high security. The anonymous sexual exploitation case was lodged against Singh on the order of a Chief judge after he received a letter accusing the godman of assaulting two sadhavis. Soon after the verdict, his followers went on a rampage torching buildings and attacking media persons. (indiatvnews.com)
According to sources, atleast 32 people have been reported dead and more than 250 people have been injured in the clashes. Violence also spread to several parts of Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad with empty buses and train coaches set on fire allegedly by Dera supporters. (indianexpress.com)
The quantum of sentence will be pronounced to Singh on August 28 and the punishment can be a jail term of not less than seven years but may even extend to life imprisonment. The CBI court framed charges against Ram Rahim under Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC in September 2008.(timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
The Punjab and Haryana court also ordered that the security forces should not hesitate from using "mighty force" to maintain law and order in the state. The anticipated violence broke out and the Dera followers clashed with the police after they started to assemble on the Ambala Kiathal road.
Dera followers attacked media vehicles and journalists in Panchkula. At least 15 incidents of violence were reported within 45 minutes in Punjab and Haryana after the court verdict became known. (hindustantimes.com)
The level of drama was so high that about 74 trains were cancelled in view of the situation in Haryana and Punjab on August 25.
Since August 23, parts of Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh were under a security lockdown as 200,000 supporters of Ram Rahim massed in Panchkula ahead of the verdict. Mobile internet and data services had to be suspended in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh for 72 hours. In the aftermath of the verdict curfew was imposed in Punjab in Ferozepur, Mansa,Bathinda, Patiala and Fazilka as well as Panchkula. (hindustantimes.com)
Delhi was put on high alert in the wake of incidents of violence in Haryana and section 144 was imposed in the national capital to avoid mishappenings. Despite the imposition of section 144, people gathered in huge numbers and created a mayhem across several states.
Surprisingly after everything that has happened the godman was taken to Rohtak via a chopper and has been put up in a guest house there. However, Haryana Director General of Prisons rejected all allegations of special treatment being given to the Dera Chief.
The blame game between the government and the authorities has already begun.
The Haryana government has sacked Haryana's deputy advocate general for "accompanying" Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh after the Dera Sacha Sauda chief's conviction in a rape case. The state government terminated the services of DAG Gurdas Salwara on the recommendations of Haryana's Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan. The action from the AG office came in the wake of a video clip purportedly showing the DAG in lawyer's robes carrying a suitcase of the Dera head after his conviction by a CBI court in Panchkula yesterday. (indianexpress.com)
The government has also blamed the DCP's 'defective prohibitory order' for the crowd build up in Panchkula.
Meanwhile, 5 pistols, 2 rifles and ten petrol bombs have been recovered from the Dera followers.
The Punjab and Haryana court have criticised the Khattar government and have said that they surrendered well before the Dera head for "political considerations." The High Court went on to say that the Chief Minister is extending political patronage to the followers.
Opposition parties are leaving no chance to target the Chief Minister of Haryana. They have started blaming him for the violence and the rise in the death toll in the area, and demanded his resignation. However, BJP has ruled out the possibility of his removal.
Female supporters of Ram Rahim
A video has gone viral on social media where college going girls have come out in support of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who according to them has played the role of both their father and mother. They are seen giving various reasons as to why the verdict is not correct and have also made clear that they will resort to protests if anything more is done to their guru.
Other events in the past
This is not the first incident where a godman has been charged of sexual assault charges. Another example in the past is Asaram Bapu.
He was accused of sexually assulting a 16 year old minor schoolgirl who studied at Asaram's ashram in Madhya Pradesh's Chhindwara and stayed in a girls' hostel there.
The girl had made a complaint at a police station in Delhi on for which he had been arrested in 2013. His bail has been rejected multiple times and is still facing trial.
Is it only in India?
In another incident in June earlier this year Cardinal George Pell, a senior adviser to Pope Francis and the third-ranking official in the Holy See was charged of sexual assault in his home country of Australia. The case which has become a black mark against the Catholic church could also prove to have serious consequences for Pope Francis who counts Pell amongst his closest aides. (www.cnn.com)
In a 2012 incident in Hawaii, an individual Mark Pinkosh stated that at the age of 8 or 9 years old, he was sexually abused by own priest. His attorney, Jeff Anderson in a statement said that he had represented 3,000 such sexual abuse victims since 1983.
Since ancient times, people have put their faith in priests, religious gurus and the so-called godmen. Basically, people have put blind faith and trust in their fellow humans. Sociologists have cited several reasons for this behaviour such as fear of the unknown, need for someone to connect them to the divine, an individual who listens to their worries and find a solution etc.
But such trust and faith is questioned when these few individuals indulge in horrendous crimes like sexual assault and rape, work in their selfish commercial and political interests, consider themselves above law and order and blatantly flout the law and order of the society.
Despite such crimes, why do followers still believe in their religious gurus? Why are they willing to resort to violence in support of such self styled godmen? Only psychologists and sociologists can answer these questions but such behaviour is baffling.